Clemson upsets No. 22 Florida in frenetic finish
The Clemson men’s basketball team came out on top of a frenetic second half to down No. 22 Florida, 71-69, in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Florida Saturday.
The Gators (6-4), which had been ranked as high as No. 5 this season, held a 7-point edge after 20 minutes, 40-33, and extended that 12 points early in the second half, but the Tigers recovered and later answered with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit back to two.
Florida answered back with an 8-2 run, and Clemson (9-1) was right there again – much thanks to Marcquise Reed, who totaled 22 points and topped the 1,000-career point mark.
Clemson guard Gabe DeVoe, who tallied 19 points, gave Clemson its first lead of the second half on a 3-pointer with 1:44 left, 67-66. A Clemson turnover on the other end of the court, however, led to an easy basket by Florida’s Chris Chiozza to put the Gators back on top. Their bid to extend that lead resulted in an off-balance, deep 3-pointer that Clemson rebounded and turned into an easy basket by Elijah Thomas with 37 seconds left.
A 3-pointer by Gators guard KeVaughn Allen then went off the mark and forced Florida to foul – and some confusion. Reed was fouled, but Thomas was brought to the line, where he sunk the first attempt. The refs then realized their error, and after a lengthy delay, Reed went to the line and coolly hit both to help close out the win.
Another set of fouls sent David Skara to the line to close out the game, where both attempts were off the mark but Florida was unable to get a shot off. The Valparaiso transfer made his Clemson debut after sitting out the first nine games, playing 11 minutes with two rebounds.
“Obviously a terrific win for our team. I couldn’t be more proud of our players. This was a hard fought game,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “For most of the game, it felt like Florida was in control. I think we did a good job of battling back. I think we battled back well during the second half. I told the guys that this was going to be a game of runs.
"A lot of credit to my players who just keep on playing. We put our head down and finally got consecutive stops and then Marcquise Reed got rolling for us and created some big time offense for us. I thought we played smart down the stretch when we needed to finish the game.”
The win was only the eighth non-conference top-25 victory away from home in school history. It was the 300th win overall for Brownell.
Clemson out-shot Florida from the field, 51 percent to 41, but were doubled-up in 3-pointers (10-5).
Clemson returns to the action Tuesday in a 7 p.m. home tip-off with South Carolina (ESPN2).
Notes: Clemson improves to 9-1 on the season … the Tigers improved to 11-9 all-time against Florida … the Tigers handed the Gators just their third all-time loss in the Orange Bowl Classic and snapped a seven-game winning streak in the event … the win marked coach Brownell’s 300th career victory and his 133rd at Clemson (just six wins shy of passing Oliver Purnell for third on Clemson’s all-time win list) … also with the win, the Tigers overcame its second halftime deficit of seven points to win (last time to happen at least twice was 2008-09) … Tigers are the second team this season to top Florida after the Gators held a first half lead (Duke – 11/26) … with a jumper late in the second half Marcquise Reed eclipsed the 1,000-point mark of his career (1,004 career points) … Reed’s 22 points marked the eighth 20-point outing by a Tiger this season … Clemson got to the foul line 30 times for the third time this season … Elijah Thomas finished with a game-high 10 rebounds – his fourth double-digit rebounding game of the season and the sixth of his career … Clemson held Florida 18.6 points below their season average of 87.6 … with Florida State dropping a game to Oklahoma State earlier in the day in the OBC, it marks just the first time since 1999 that both Florida and Florida State suffered losses in the Orange Bowl Classic.
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